by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | October 26, 2021
A Pennsylvania company is under investigation for sending more than 400,000 fake N95 masks to the Cleveland Clinic last year, which paid $1.8 million for the faulty products.
The clinic made the discovery after distributing more than 50,000 masks to healthcare workers, when some who were working on high-risk wards earlier this year tested positive. The company, Q2 Solutions, was identified as a third-party provider that sold the masks to the Cleveland Clinic. It operates several retail websites selling PPE, according to a filing by federal prosecutors in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
The prosecutors are requesting that the judge allow the government to seize the counterfeit masks shipped to Cleveland. “The investigation indicates that Q2 Solutions may have sold counterfeit PPE to at least 20 medical facilities,” they said in the filing.
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Q2 Solutions’ attorney Keith Gregory says the company denies the allegations, but that the federal investigation prevented him from commenting further, reported Cleveland.com
The company is also accused of sending boxes of faulty masks to hospitals in Connecticut and Delaware. According to Cleveland.com, Homeland Security agents receiving word in December that Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Delaware received 35,000 N95 surgical masks from Q2 Solutions for $164,500. N95s must meet standards from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and filter 95% of airborne particles.
Employees there complained that the masks did not fit and had “the smell of oil or chemical” in them. Administrators reached out to the manufacturer, 3M Innovative Properties Co., which determined the masks were fake. Federal agents say that Q2 Solutions also lied to the hospital about doing business with other hospitals, including ones in Tennessee and North Carolina.
The Cleveland Clinic reported a similar experience. It said that a Q2 Solutions employee had emailed it about the sale and that when it requested proof of authenticity, the company sent video and photographs of a warehouse filled with N95 masks. The clinic placed four orders for a total of 100,080 masks and paid $440,352 for the first shipment and $450,360 for each of the next three. But nurses in January noticed the masks did not fit well and were too small. When the clinic contacted 3M, it said the masks were bogus based on their improper printing and packing and physical appearance.